The Wattys are here

After some hours of delay, assumed coding problems, and many thousands of panicked writers around the world…the 2016 Wattys are up and running.

The Wattys are Wattpad’s *huge* annual writing contest, split among many countries, languages, and genres. It’s a fascinating way for me, as an American, to see some of the best of the best of international writing outside the fanfiction and commercial venues I normally frequent!

Bloodshadow for Wattpad

For my part, just to see if anything would happen, I chucked Bloodshadow into the mix. From now until August 31, if you have (or want) a Wattpad account (they’re free), please stop by and give my old trunk-novel a look. It’s well beyond commercially publishable at this point; all that I can do is heavily revise and self-publish it, and I’m planning to do that anyway.

The shapeshifter dilemma

In 199X, I sent a story into Marion Zimmer Bradley’s then-prestigious fantasy magazine. I eventually got back a form rejection notice with a handwritten note from the Great One herself, explaining, “Werewolves are done, over. No werewolf fics, please. Same goes for vampires.”

I take a little comfort that the Paranormal Romance explosion was a few short years away then, and it would herald a tectonic shift in reading and publishing. I love PNR for that. I hate PNR for that, and I’ll get to my reasons why soon.

Granted, my story sucked. I still have it, and yes, it does suck. But my biggest problem with that rejection letter? There were no werewolves or vampires in the story. One shapeshifter not remotely human or lupine, running around in a world that wasn’t Earth.

Fast forward two decades or so. PNR has dug itself deep into the SFF and romance readerships, and for good reason. But it’s also a victim of its own success, especially regarding shapeshifting characters.

They’re a genre unto themselves. They are an avalanche. Some are extremely well-written and fun. Some are just tedious trope-fodder. No matter what real or imagined animal/alien species they might become when they’re not slumming as humans…they all get lumped into the reader-writer-agent-publisher hivemind as…

Werewolf.

I blogged about this a little over a year ago.

So when someone tells me “Sorry, shapeshifting is just not my passion”, I have to sympathize. I understand.

The shapeshifters of romance have stolen the thunder from the shapeshifters of SFF, in much the same way that Twilight’s glittery Vampire 3.0 trivialized into automatic parody the vampires of Victorian and Pulp days.

My own attitude as a reader has probably contributed minutely to that shift. I write a few shapeshifters, and I still can’t stop my little internal whine whenever I now see another writer’s were-creature book. Because I’m also probably thinking, “Oh god, not another werewolf story.” A terrible disservice to some amazing writers I’ve met and/or read, across the years.

So to remind myself once more: Fur + Paws + Sentience still doesn’t equal Werewolf.

 

#notawerewolf

I tend to write secondary-world science fiction and fantasy. That means it’s probably a made-up world and culture that may have nothing to do with our Earth. Often, ‘true humans’ like us aren’t even in the cast of characters.

I have not written YA, NA or adult urban fantasy set in contemporary locales (though I love some of the genre), or paranormal romance drawn from the new ‘conventions’ of vampires, angels/demons, Fey Folk, or werewolves. There’s also a whole sub-genre of erotic fiction dealing with shapeshifters that I approach judiciously, because many of those writers deal in the same familiar contemporary vein.

I’ve stopped seeking out beta readers who’ve only read those genres. Because I can explain something only a certain number of times before losing my cool:

paws for blog